Participant bio – Paul Woodhouse

Name: Paul Woodhouse Location Commercial Drive, Vancouver Job: I’m the Programme Coordinator for Humanities 101 Community Programme at UBC http://

Participant bio – Michelle Miller

Name: Michelle Miller Live: Strathcona, Downtown Eastside, Vancouver About Myself: I’m a feminist anti-violence worker and follower of Jesus who is always looking for ways to amplify the cries of those on the margins.

Participant bio – Rosanne Gervais

Name: Rosanne Gervais Live: Port Moody About myself: I’ve been volunteering at Carnegie Community Centre Kitchen and Seniors lounge, where the folks are family and the food & fresh coffee are nourishing & made with love… Don’t know how I would get through this week without our “Sandstone Lady” (the Carnegie Centre) a treasure beyond measure.

Participant bio – Britta Fluevog

Name: Britta Fluevog Live: Mount Pleasant, Vancouver. About myself: I am an artist working out of the Downtown Eastside and currently enrolled in paramedic training. I am a member of DNC and Streams of Justice, both of which work on justice issues in the Vancouver community.

Participant bio – Meena Dawar

Name: Meena Dawar Why taking the challenge: I am participating in the challenge to assess if it is at all possible for people to have a healthy diet on the limited funds available to them. As a Medical Health Officer for VCH, I know that poverty is a huge barrier to achieving good health outcomes.

Participant bio – Sally McBride and Kyle Vipond

Name: Sally McBride and Kyle Vipond Where you live: We are west coast transplants from various corners of Ontario who met and live in the heart of Kits. A bit about you and what you do: Sally is a public health researcher, advocate and activist who works with communities, clinicians and researchers to move health research evidence into actionable outcomes with the goal of improving health.

Participant bio – Jen McPherson

Name: Jen MacPherson Live: Vancouver, BC About Myself: I’m a Registered Dietitian and Treatment, Health and Wellness Coordinator at Positive Living BC.

Participant bio – Selim Sora

Name: Selim Sora Live: Vancouver About myself: I work night shifts for PHS Community Services at Onsite (drug withdrawal and stabilization) as a mental health worker. In addition to other obstacles, the majority of individuals I encounter through my work are forced to survive on welfare.

Participant bio – Natalie Choy

Name: Natalie Choy Live: Richmond About myself: I am a fairly recent UBC graduate from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. I am now working for Vancouver Coastal Health as a Registered Dietitian. I really enjoy cooking, trying new recipes and exploring different cuisines. Why I am taking the challenge: Through volunteering with various community groups and community kitchens, I have seen the effects of poverty.

Participant bio – Lauren Gill

Name: Lauren Gill Live: Vancouver About myself: I’m a community organizer and frontline worker in mental health, addictions, housing as well as the survival sex-trade. I was also a Vancouver City Council candidate in the 2011 election. Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: I have decided to take on this challenge to stand in solidarity with individuals I know and work with, whose daily lived reality is having to survive off our governments dismal welfare rates, underfed and in substandard housing. 

Participant bio – Allison Dunnet, David Holzer and Gus Holzer

Names: Allison Dunnet, David Holzer and Gus Holzer Live: Kitsilano About ourselves: We are a family of three – mom, dad and two year old son who enjoy cooking meals and entertaining friends, playing with train sets and spending weekends at the park/playground.

Participant bio – Edina Shaw

Name: Edina Shaw Live: North Vancouver About myself: I am a student in the Community Social Service Worker Program at Douglas College and a Part-Time Office Assistant. Why you are taking the Challenge: I am taking the Challenge because I think it is an important issue. I grew up in a single parent family and have always been amazed at how hard my mom worked and sacrificed to give me the opportunities I have now.

JN Burnett Secondary students taking the Challenge

A group of students at JN Burnett Secondary School in Richmond are taking the Welfare Food Challenge. Inspired by the One World One Heart Conference and the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition’s End Poverty Day Student Day of Action, Paul Freiwirth organized a number of his fellow students to take up the Challenge.

Participant bio – Suzanne Bradley

Name: Suzanne Bradley Live: Surrey About myself: I am in the Social Service Worker program at Douglas College. Why I’m taking the Challenge: I know it can’t be done, but I feel it will bring more attention the cause.

Participant bio – Princess Margaret Secondary School in Surrey, BC

Students and teachers in the Community Leadership Class are taking the challenge! Names: Back Row: Afnan Niseng, Baldeep Sahota, Aaaqil Hassan, Bhuvan Sharma, Murad Ahmed-Mangi, Priya Sharma Front Row: Hussan Bhullar, Ms. Carolyn Bell (teacher), Ms. Fernanda Luvisotto (teacher), Gabrielle Chan, Hannah Generoso, Aisha Mohhammed

Participant bio – Lou Black

Name: Lou Black Live: East Vancouver. About me: I have a strong and loving relationship with food and I’m a great cook. I love cycling, cross country skiing, and being outside generally. I work at the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) as a Researcher and Policy Analyst. I also volunteer with Raise the Rates.

Participant bio – Emma Djilali

Name: Emma Djilali Live: South Cambie – Vancouver About myself: I was born in Victoria, BC and grew up with the under the impression that tree-climbing was a legitimate sport – enough said. Low and behold, I arrived at UBC, discovered the  cold, rational world of market economies and supply and demand graphs, and found myself strangely enchanted by their application to the disastrous state of global affairs.

Participant bio – Gerry Kasten

Name: Gerry Kasten Live: East Vancouver About myself: I Love food! I was a cook for 10 years before I became a dietitian, and am working as a Registered Dietitian for Vancouver Coastal Health and also for the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch at Health Canada. I also teach cooking at UBC.

Partipant bio – Nicole Savage

Name: Nicole Savage About myself: I am a student at BCIT in the Radio and Broadcasting Program Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: I was inspired by Paul Taylor to get active and get involved. I think it is important to bring awareness to this profound issue, and what little means people on welfare have to survive. My worries: I would be lying if I said this was going to be easy, but I am excited to tackle it hands on!

Participant bio – Mr. CBB

Name: Mr.CBB About myself: I’m a new Canadian from the UK. I live with my wife, Mrs.CBB, and we are in our mid thirties. I blog at Canadian Budget Binder to share our journey to debt freedom while using a budget and setting goals.

Participant bio – Lihwen Hsu

Name: Lihwen Hsu Live: UBC, Vancouver About myself: I am a studying Political Science and Sustainable Community Development. I have grown up in the Point Grey/UBC area since 1995 and have been fortunate to be provided for my entire life. I work in a kitchen at Earls and devote my time to cooking at Dusk to Dawn. I am an avid biker and hiker amongst the other various sports I do.

Participant bio – Kirsten Mueller and family

Name: Kirsten Mueller and family Live: Fraser Valley, BC Why doing the Challenge: Choosing to take the challenge wasn’t an easy decision. I knew it would not just impact me; I would not be successful unless I could engage my family. Our daughter got excited when she asked if she could approach her teachers about a class presentation about the experience. Absolutely!

Participant bio – June Sanders

Name: June Sanders Live: Vancouver, BC. About myself: I am an outreach worker and student. Soon I will be a high school teacher Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: Everyday, I witness the short and long term effects of a grossly ineffective system of wealth redistribution that serves to perpetuate (rather than improve) the social and economic lives of so many in our community . I am joining this challenge because I want to raise awareness of what it means to rely on provincial benefits to meet ones basic needs in the City of Vancouver. 26$… Read More

Participant bio – Greg Masuda

Name: Greg Masuda Live: Mount Pleasant, Vancouver About myself: I’ve been volunteering on the Downtown Eastside with organizations such as the Powell Street Festival, DTES Neighbourhood House, and Hope In Shadows. I am now part of a research project that is studying the legacy of human right, branding, and place in the Downtown Eastside.

Participant bio – Caitlin Donnelly

Name: Caitlin Donnelly Lives: Vancouver About myself: I’m a graduate student at UBC, doing research in plant cell biology. I’ve had some experience doing volunteer work that touches on social justice issues, but nothing directly related to poverty/welfare rates.

Participant bio – Andrea Macpherson

Name: Andrea Macpherson About myself: Andrea has been broadcasting at News1130 radio in Vancouver since 2007. She also worked as a news anchor in Penticton, and began her broadcasting career in Quesnel BC in 2004. Andrea will be doing regular reports on News 1130 and tweeting at: @AMacOnAir Online at

Participant bio – Alex Minard

Name: Alex Minard Live: Downtown Eastside, Vancouver About myself: I am an architect with the Vancouver office of Perkins+Will. In addition to our focus on the ecological impacts of building design and city making, Perkins+Will is deeply committed to addressing the social impacts.

Participant bio – Molly Knox

Name: Molly Knox Live: Vancouver About myself: I am Homalco First Nations and grew up on Vancouver Island. I am an undergraduate student at UBC studying Global Resource Systems, with a focus on food security among Indigenous populations. As part of my Land, Food, and Community 350 course, my group is working with the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House to help advocate for increased welfare rates in BC.

Participant bio – Robert de Ocampo

name: robert de ocampo   about me: i came to Canada when i was 10 years old.  My family were in welfare programs and i remember how we survived through it.  Now i’m working in a grocery store, been doing that for 15+ years now.  I’m pretty good at picking out great deals and i’ve been living on my own for quite sometime now – so i’m no stranger to extreme budgeting (though not regularly practised).

Participant bio – Sean Kirkham

Name: Sean Kirkham Live: Vancouver About myself: I was born 2 degrees above the Arctic Circle on the scenic Mackenzie River and grew up in Montreal. My lifelong adventure for travel began at age 16 when I ran away from home to New York City where I spent the next fifteen years.

Participant bio – Trish Garner

Name: Trish Garner Live: Mount Pleasant, Vancouver About myself: I’m the Community Organizer for the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and a concerned parent of three children under 5. Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: I’m taking the Welfare Food Challenge to raise awareness about the completely inadequate welfare rates people are expected to live on in British Columbia – $610 a month is simply not enough – and to urge the government to raise the rates! I’m also doing it because as a parent I can’t believe we allow children to go hungry on welfare in this… Read More

Participant bio – Constance Barnes

Name: Constance Barnes Live: Kitsilano, Vancouver About myself: Sales & Marketing Manager at Dr.Sun Yat- Sen Classical Chinese Garden; Vancouver Park Board Commissioner and Seeking nomination to be NDP candidate for Vancouver False Creek. Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: I am taking the Food Challenge because over 26 years ago my father the late Emery Barnes took a challenge to live on Welfare for one month and sadly I see that not much has changed! I struggled for many years trying to raise 2 young children on social assistance; many times I could not make ends… Read More

Participant bio – Alexis Farley

Name: Alexis Farley Live: East Vancouver About myself: I am a new addition to East Vancouver! I recently moved to Vancouver after a couple of years of traveling and living in Nairobi. I am currently working at a B&B cooking, baking, and any other behind-the-scene duties that it takes to keep an old Victorian mansion functioning!

Participant bio – Peter Driftmier

Name: Peter Driftmier Live: East Vancouver About myself: I work and volunteer in grassroots health, social justice, food justice and community journalism and live in East Vancouver with my partner. I think that if social assistance punishes people by only enabling them to survive by charity subsistence, criminalized work, poor health, and a loss of privacy and self-determination, then we do not have the welfare state we like to pretend we do in Canada.

Participant bio – Paul Taylor

Name: Paul M. Taylor Live: Mt. Pleasant – Vancouver About myself: Right to Food Activist and executive director of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: Those who built the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House put the Right to Food at the heart of our work, as nutritional vulnerability was a theme familiar to all. We recognize food to have the amazing ability to bring people together and the basis for building friendships and community.

Participant bio – Mona Mah

Name: Mona Mah Live: Langley BC About myself: I am a single Mom of two amazing girls, one is married and the other in high school. I am a licensed professional Optician. I have worked with Ophthalmology, and laser eye surgery for years. A year and a half ago, I became very ill and am currently on long term disability, and am grateful for the benefits my job has provided.

Participant bio – Kim Hearty

Name: Kim Hearty Live: East Vancouver About myself: I have a steady part-time gig as a mental health worker with the Portland Hotel Society, a non-profit housing provider in the DTES, doing mostly janitorial work. I make about 1800/month and this allows me to rent a small 1 bedroom apartment in Hastings-Sunrise by myself, after 8 years of living with roommates.

Participant bio – Haida Arsenault-Antolick

Name: Haida Arsenault-Antolick Live: East Vancouver About myself: I’m a graduate student at SFU, where I work on issues of racialization and neoliberalism. I grew up in rural PEI, and now live in East Van with my partner. Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: The brutal, punishing policies all levels of government in Canada enact against poor people in our society are disgusting and unjust. 

Participant bio – Steven Zussino

My name is Steven Zussino. I work for a software company and run with my wife. I am taking the challenge to bring awareness to the low budget welfare recipients have to work with. Poverty is a major issue in this province and a cause like this will show many Canadians that they should be thankful for being able to feed themselves and their family.

Participant bio – Earle Peach

Name: Earle Peach Live: Mount Pleasant, Vancouver About myself: I’m a musician and composer, I conduct the Solidarity Notes Labour Choir and 3 other choirs, I’m a member of 4 musical groups, teach privately and organize a couple of musical events each month. I grow vegetables and ride a bike.

Participant bio – Clint Burnham

Name: Clint Burnham Live: Mount Pleasant, Vancouver About myself: I am an English professor at SFU and a poet and writer. I have been involved in social justice and DTES advocacy work since the late 1990s, including a number of years working with the Humanities 101 program when I was at UBC (1998-2003).

Participant bio – Chantal Blanchard

Name: Chantal Blanchard Live: Powell River About myself: I am a professional Caregiver. Very grateful. Tones of humour. Happy to take the challenge. Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: To bring awareness and strengthen a dialogue in our community about people that live in poverty and those that are not. My worries: That things will get worst for the poor.

Participant bio – Brett Trainor

Name: Brett Trainor Live: Vancouver About myself: I was born and raised on Vancouver Island, and grew up skiing, biking, and playing soccer. I am currently studying Global Resource Systems at UBC Vancouver, with a focus in sustainable urban development.

Participant bio – Brent Mansfield

Name: Brent Mansfield Live: East Vancouver About myself: Food is a very important part of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and also have the opportunity to through my work in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia and my volunteering with the Vancouver Food Policy Council to participate in the movement towards a more just and sustainable food system.

Participant bio – Bea Jablonska

Name: Bea Jablonska Live: East Vancouver About myself: I am a single mother, a woman, an immigrant (albeit not very recent), a student, a volunteer, a believer in social justice, and many more but I would like to leave it at that as I think those are the most important factors that all combined, define my identity.

Participant bio – Ginny and Derek Wilson

Derek and I live in Port Moody. We are both retired from careers in education (Ginny) and transportation project management (Derek). Ginny’s interests are permaculture and community gardens where I have 2 plots. I aspire to being a subsistence organic farmer. Derek’s interests are peak oil and climate change.

Participant bio – Barbara & James Atkins

Name: Barbara Atkins Live: North Vancouver About myself: I have always been interested in social justice. For me this means standing with/walking with/marching with those who are victims of injustice. I am a grandmother, wife and mother of 3 sons.

Participant bio – Andrina Perry

Name: Andrina Perry Live: I recently moved to Victoria from Vancouver. About myself: I am Raise the Rates’ volunteer webmaster. I am currently doing contract work in the non-profit sector and am also a yoga instructor.

Participant bio – Ted Bruce

I work for Vancouver Coastal Health in the public health field where we believe in preventing illness and improving the health of eveyone rather than waiting for people to fall ill. I am married with 3 adult children. I live in Richmond. I currently co-chair the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. As a person working in health care I am concerned that people don’t know that poverty makes people sick and that it creates huge costs for society especially the health care system.